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Book Review of “The Ordeal” by Mangesh Jadhav

The Ordeal

 by Mangesh Jadhav

We know that USA is capable of quite a lot. Or so it projects in movies and books. But interfering with nature…who would’ve thought!

Mangesh Jadhav’s first offering, a sci-fi one at that, (The Ordeal) is quite entertaining and thrilling. I wasn’t sure how well my mind would receive it- but I was zapped at being hooked on to it from the very first page.

So what’s the story like- you ask? Well we have NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) working on a satellite that can be used for military purposes. And then you have Russia with its undercover agents reporting the secret to its country, and them coming up with plans to counter it, and therein lies the fantastic plot. How it is brought forth and faced makes for a great read.

For a debut writer, Mangesh has used crisp, clean and very free flowing language that is not only easy but also grammatically fine. (Such relief there.)

The characters are very strong and impactful. Michael Jones, the lead protagonist is a CIA agent. His personality almost reflects through the pages. He is in charge of keeping the mission a secret, and what a fine job he does.
Then we have Suzanne Owen (Private Secretary of CIA’s Director) –a beautiful young lady and Michael’s love interest.
The other cast includes: Dr. Nina Portman, the greedy scientist who can’t but keep a secret for the country and sells her soul to the devil (read: Russians); Dr. Stephen Wilson of NOAA, the one to begin the experiment in the first place, and a bunch of Russians (Alexander Kofman, Andrei Yavlinsky, Vladimir Ivanov, Sergi Nemstor, etc.) who complete the picture in a splendid way.

Another good thing about the novel is the ease of reading it brings- well spaced lettering and smooth language- makes reading sort of uninterrupted and the 400 odd pages did not seem a task, really. The narrative is quite linear. Which is a good thing I guess.

The thriller was thoroughly enjoyed. Crisp plot, remarkable twists, pretty good detailing (sometimes a bit too much of it), it felt more real than just a story. Certain places the author could’ve/ should’ve left open-ended sentences/plots for the reader to interpret or assume or imagine. This would’ve engaged the reader more.

But overall, this is a MUST read- esp. coming from an Indian author- a great debut here!

Kudos!

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Book Review of “If It Is Sweet” by Mridula Koshy

If It Is Sweet

by Mridula Koshy

My fondness for short stories made me go lengths to find this book. And I definitely want to admit – it was totally worth it!

A fine amalgamation of perspective, imagination and reality. Conventional settings with contemporary outlook, without traditional facets taking over the characterization, reveal the writer’s flair of capturing your mind and lingering on for almost ever!

The Good Mother –breaks away the conservative facade and shows a mother agonizing over her failed motherhood. She ends up picking a young lover after her son’s death and commits a mistake she can never forgive herself for.

POP –walks similar lines of failed motherhood but with a newer perspective.

Jeans –is an intimate sort of a read. Who would have ever thought of writing about our pretty behinds in this way! And they do really juggle in four different sections! An erratically humorous read with an interesting view point.

The Large Girl –is a bold narrative. A tender love story beyond traditional norms and lines.

Companion – felt surreal and the emotions shared by the two companions come to reveal a surprise ending.

Stories like “Today is the Day, Romancing the Koodawalla, Not Known, Stray Blades of Grass and Same Day,” reveal the feelings of characters belonging to the lower strata of society. The stories show the humane aspect of the author and her keen observation skill. Some of the characters are the ones we would have come across in life but reading Mridula’s stories makes us see aspects we would have never considered earlier. She doesn’t sound preachy or gung ho about the fates or challenges faced by her characters –but simply puts forth their feelings and aspirations. Beautifully written.

When the Child was a Child, 3-2-1, First Time, and Passage” –deal with loss and mourning and lives of expats. Come to see, almost all stories have an underlying theme of sorrow and loss. Maybe that’s what binds the entire collection.

Overall, a well-paced, strikingly original and riveting collection that navigates locales between Los Angeles and Delhi. And all the seventeen stories in If It Is Sweet are unique and leave behind an everlasting impression.

Most of the stories make you go back to them. For a second read. And each time you read them, there’s a different aspect that comes to light. The stories create a stir…an unrest in your mind. They make you see the realities as the author visions.

Mridula’s writing is lucid and smooth. It haunts you in a desirable way. You are bound to find it demanding (or bumpy sometimes), but it is a style you will end up loving.

A myriad of emotions and a palette of feelings, the book deserves to be in your bookshelf forever!

Not to forget the unassuming title that leaves a very different taste in your mind. Astounding.

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